Nigerian youths under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) on Thursday staged a protest against South African businesses in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, demanding that the companies should vacate the nation in 48 hours.
This week, at least 20 shops believed to belong to immigrants were looted in the South African nation’s capital. It is a response to the attack on Nigerian business interest in Pretoria that led to the Nigerian protest.
The protest which was taken to the South African High Commission in Abuja witnessed the burning of the country’s national flag.
The students, led by their president, Aruna Kadiri, moved from the popular Unity Fountain to the nearby MTN office in Maitama and Multi Choice in the Central Business District (CBD) Area to protest against the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerian nationals in South Africa.
The students issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the South African nationals and businesses to leave Nigeria.
They also urged the High Commission officials to cancel the dinner organised in honour of Regina Thambo, the co-founder of ANC Youth League.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the students urged the government to take concrete action to protect Nigerians in South Africa.
Kadiri, while addressing newsmen, said “we are demanding that they should break the diplomatic ties between both countries if there’s any because the xenophobic attacks targeted at Nigerians that had happened long time ago has come again.
“We have decided to clear the madness with madness.”
He said they burned the South African flag at the High Commission to pass a message that “we don’t have relationship with them any longer.”
“Within 48 hours, all South Africans in Nigeria should leave or else, we won’t be able to guarantee their security any more,” Kadiri added.
Responding, the spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Clement Aduku urged the protesting students to be calm as the Federal Government is engaging in talks with its South African counterparts over the xenophobic attacks.
He also assured that all diplomatic measures would be explored to stop the killings of Nigerian nationals in South Africa.
The protesters carried placards such as “South Africa we say stop killing our people” and chanted slogans denouncing the attacks.
It took the timely intervention of the police who condoned off the area immediately the protesters, who threatened to bring down the building arrived the area.
There were however claims that the protesters damaged the telecommunications office which is South Africa’s biggest business in Nigeria
Windows and other items were said to have been broken by the protesters.
“They forcefully entered the MTN office. Security men were around but unable to curtail the protesters, who forced the gates open and entered the office,” a witness said.
“Some protesters were touts. Some were students. In the midst were some criminals that took advantage of the setting to cart away some customers’ phones and other things,” he added.
The protest coincided with a visit by MTN chairman Phuthuma Nhleko to the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.